Casting is sort of a hobby of mine. I do it whenever I should be working on something else. Today’s pointless venture: casting a remake of The Stand.
The Stand was made into a miniseries in 1994, and unlike a lot of people I’ve talked to, I really enjoy it. Maybe because I grew up with the series; I’m not sure, honestly. But despite some glaring changes from the original novel—you know, like the strange melting pot that is Larry’s women—I think that there’s a lot of value in the original miniseries.
But almost anything can be improved upon.
Okay, so Gary Sinise is going to be pretty hard to one-up. He’s sort of perfect as Stu, honestly. Even Stephen King thinks so. Problem is, he’s just too old now for my dream miniseries remake, so I was forced to come up with someone else. That person: Jeffrey Donovan.
Okay, seriously I tried to come up with a Texan actor for Stu . . . or someone who at least had a vague Southern accent. . . but I just didn’t like anyone until I thought of Jeffrey Donovan. Stu is a very mild guy until he’s, well, not, and Jeffrey Donovan has the charisma to play a quiet lead that still demands attention. He’s also strong enough to hold the lead in a huge ensemble of actors and, I suspect, looks fairly hot in a white shirt and scrub pants.
Pretty much anyone would be an improvement over Molly Ringwald as Fran, but Deborah Ann Woll is a bright spot on True Blood, and I’d like to see what else she can do. I think she can keep Fran from being a total whiny waste of time, and I can see her paired up with Jeffrey Donovan pretty well.
I actually like Rob Lowe as Nick—admittedly, he’s hell and gone from the Nick I pictured when I read The Stand, but he’s got some great reactions that sold the character to me—but Joseph Gordon-Levitt can be exceptionally expressive, and when your character is deaf, that’s a good quality for an actor to have. Gordon-Levitt is older than Nick, but due to his slim stature and babyface, he can easily play younger. Plus, I like him, and Nick has always been my favorite character.
Although, in retrospect, maybe I should have picked out a picture where Joseph Gordon-Levitt isn’t wearing headphones. Oh well.
Well, he’s yummy. Is that justification enough?
Larry isn’t quite as charming as Neal Caffrey on White Collar, but they’re both confident guys who are pretty used to getting what they want, so I have the feeling that this wouldn’t be too huge of a stretch for Matt Bomer. Plus, when your story demands a redemptive character, it’s nice if the actor portraying him is actually likeable. Matt Bomer is likable. And Jesus, he’s pretty.
I just had to get a picture with the Bible in it for Flagg. I just had to.
Randall Flagg is one charismatic sonofabitch. He’s also one evil sonofabitch, and no one, I mean no one, pulls off charismatic evil like Walton Goggins. He is, quite simply, the master. And hopefully, this remake will have both updated makeup and a better budget than the original, so that when Flagg reveals the demon within, the demon doesn’t have to look like an orange rat with horns.
Runner Up: William Fichtner
Okay, so I must tell you: I came this close to not casting Tom Cullen. Despite the fact that he is a major player in The Stand, I almost gave up entirely because, honestly? I don’t quite know how to look at an actor and think, Gosh. He looks like he’d be swell at playing someone who is mentally retarded. And the handful of actors who I have seen successfully play mentally challenged characters simply weren’t right for Tom.
So I came up with Kevin Durand, who lately has been playing a lot of badasses (for instance, Keamy in Lost, or Gabriel in Legion . . . one of the only redemptive things about Legion). The fact that he’s like 6’6″ or something equally ridiculous probably has something to do with it. But oh back in the days of Dark Angel and Touching Evil, Durand was better known for playing gentle giants, and I think he might be able to channel that here. Durand’s a good enough actor to keep Tom from being a constant punchline, and that’s important.
Besides, he and Joseph Gordon-Levitt would have a lot of scenes together, and I think shooting the two of them standing next to one another would be hysterical.
Technically, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is probably a few years too young for the role. But I like the actress a lot, and I think she could easily play both the virginal schoolteacher we meet as well as the Walkin’ Dude’s betrothed. (She, however, would not also have to play a 50-year old pill popper. In this remake, Nadine and Rita will remain separate characters.)
It’s important to me that Nadine is both sympathetic and evil, and Winstead’s a strong enough actress that she could be believable at both. Plus, she and Matt Bomer would make a good looking couple. That’s not the most important thing, but it never hurts.
Runner Up: Natalie Portman
Now, I have no actual evidence for this, and I’m sure Aaron Johnson’s a very nice person and all, but . . . I know, deep in my gut, that this kid could play an envious, insufferable little bastard. I just know it. Harold is not the kind of geek that wears awesome hats and throws out charming pop culture references like, for instance, me. Harold is the kind of geek that is convinced that he’s the smartest—and therefore the best—person in any room. He wants wants wants to put his grubby little hands all over things that aren’t his, and when he isn’t allowed to . . . he is capable of some seriously evil shit.
In the book, Harold starts off fat and becomes thin over time. A lot of people want to cast overweight actors in this role because of that, but I think it would be easier to cast someone thin and then just use a fat suit or something. (Or go the miniseries way, I suppose, and just cut out the whole fat thing entirely.) I’m totally set on Aaron Johnson. Kick-Ass proved that he could act . . . and with a decent American accent, no less.
Okay, Matt Frewer kind of rocks, and I love him as Trash (you have no idea how many times Mek and I have warbled, “I’m so so-rryyyyyyyyyyy” ) but new cast and all that. There is no doubt about it: Jeremy Davies can play nuts. I have no trouble at all seeing Jeremy Davies stumbling around, eyes lighting up at the thought of fire, and screaming, “My life for you!” at the sky, passing birds, whatever.
Runner Up: Cillian Murphy
I think there are a lot of different ways to play Lloyd—probably why I came up with more actors for this role than all of the other roles combined—but I think John Hawkes might be the best for a lowlife convict that becomes the Devil’s right hand man (so to speak). If there’s one good thing you can say about Lloyd, it’s that the guy’s loyal, and Hawkes knows something about playing loyal men willing to kill people.
Runner Up: Ben Foster
I love Ruby Dee as Mother Abagail, and amusingly, she’s actually closer in age now than she was almost twenty years ago . . . but again, I wanted an entirely new cast for a whole new feel, and so I very reluctantly set Ruby Dee’s name aside and settled on Alfre Woodard, who could also, I’m sure, play Mother Abagail fairly well. Obviously, you have to age her up quite a bit . . . but that’s true for any actress you find because there are just a shortage of 108 year old black women out there, ready to take the part.
I would love to see Hugh Laurie using his English accent again . . . but he’s so good at an American one, which allows me to cast him as Glen, a sociology professor who really likes to talk. I’ll be honest: I generally think Hugh Laurie can do no wrong, and I would like to see him as someone softer than House again, someone who can relate to people on a semi-normal basis. I’d be really interested to see him and Jeffrey Donovan play off one another, and although he’s a touch younger than I normally see Glen, I can easily see Laurie in the first scene you meet him with Stu, as well as that last scene you leave him, with Lloyd.
Runner Up: Donald Sutherland
Ralph is an important character, in a sense, but I’d be pretty surprised if he was anyone’s favorite character. So . . . why the hell not make him Jim Beaver? He’s a farmer from the Midwest as well as an army vet, which, well, isn’t much of a stretch. Plus, I’m sure Beaver could give Ralph a bit more character than he had in the last miniseries, and really, what show doesn’t improve just by Jim Beaver’s awesome presence?
None, that’s what I say. None at all.